Disney was not willing to give a same-sex kiss for the film to hit Saudi theaters.
Marvel’s Eternals has reached theaters around the world, but not in certain Arab countries. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have brought Eternals out of theaters thanks to a single gay character experiencing a scene of domestic bliss.
That character is Phastos, played by Brian Tyree Henry. He is the first gay superhero to be shown in a Marvel movie. During the movie, Phastos shares a kiss with his male partner during a scene with his adopted son before he is recruited by the rest of the Eternals to fight the Deviants.
According to a report by Variety, Disney was unwilling to cut the scene for Eternals to air in some foreign markets. Usually giant blockbusters like Eternals are made to be easily edited in order to meet foreign cinema guidelines. Arab nations generally remove sex, homosexual or religious scenes from movies, but this time Disney was unwilling to make the modifications.
It is noted in the report that director Chloe Zhao has said in several interviews that she personally did not want to see Eternals altered to meet foreign guidelines, saying that Phastos’ homosexuality is an integral part of the film.
Instead of editing Phastos, Disney just didn’t release Eternals in Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. However, it can still be seen in the United Arab Emirates.
In Singapore, Marvel’s Eternals received a restricted M18 rating. Although elsewhere the film is rated PG-13 (or the local equivalent), Singapore’s rules regarding homosexual content automatically gave the film an M18 rating.
However, an open sex scene between two straight characters would have been fine in Singapore for a PG-13 rating.
Arab countries can agree to skip the Eternals, the gay kiss or not. The movie is Marvel’s first rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a total score of just 50% as of this writing.